What exactly does FCSA compliance involve?

As a fully compliant umbrella company, we at JMK are often asked about our FCSA Accreditation. FCSA has long been associated with industry compliance, and those who are accredited will all have met stringent criteria to meet the high standards required.

In this article, we explain a little more about the FCSA and what Accreditation actually means in a practical sense. So, if you’ve ever wondered what it means to be FCSA compliant, read on to find out!

Who are the FCSA?

The FCSA (Freelancer and Contractor Services Association), aims to safeguard the long-term future of the professional freelance sector, raising the standing and promoting compliance through Accreditation. With over 70 member firms who are working with over 170,000 contractors (and those numbers are growing), the FCSA are the UK’s leading membership body for umbrella company, contractor accountants and CIS payroll service providers.

What is FCSA Accreditation?

FCSA Accreditation has become the industry’s gold standard for compliance. Those that are awarded accredited status have been independently audited by experts to confirm that they meet the high standards demanded by the FCSA. The Codes of Compliance are designed to inform best practices in the industry, to better protect and support contractors.

“Our Codes, which sometimes go above and beyond what is lawfully required, are formulated by FCSA working closely with independent experts in these areas and changes are reviewed prior to publication by a wide variety of industry stakeholders and official bodies.” – Chris Bryce, Chief Executive FCSA

What are the steps to FCSA Accreditation?

To be considered for Accreditation, companies must first meet the following criteria:

  • A minimum of 2 years of successful operation and 1 year’s full audited accounts.
  • A minimum of 75 contractors successfully supported.
  • Financial liquidity proven by net assets exceeding 2.5% of gross profit.

Each director must then complete a Fit and Proper Person form to ensure that directors are suitable to hold the position of responsibility, and initial due diligence checks are carried out. Only once a company has met all of these criteria can the assessment process begin.

What are the FCSA Codes of Compliance?

To gain FCSA Accreditation, companies must meet the requirements set out in the FCSA Charter, General Code of Compliance, and correctly answer the individual Code for Compliance questions for their business type (there are questions for umbrella companies, PEOs, Limited Company Advisors, and CIS Providers among others).

The FCSA Charter

The FCSA charter lays out minimum levels of professional conduct for all FCSA members. The charter includes:

  • Working in the best interests of the contractor at all times.
  • A declaration of honesty and transparency.
  • Working ethically at all times.
  • Compliance with current laws and regulations.
  • Training all staff on FCSA compliance.
  • Dealing with complaints in accordance with FCSA complaints procedure.

Individual Questions for Business Types

Each business type also has a set of specific questions which are asked during assessment to determine the compliance of each company.

The questions are based around:

  • Ensuring that the contractor is fully aware and informed – including understanding what working for an umbrella company means and being supplied with a KID (Key Information Document).
  • Ensuring that the contractor is suitable to work with an umbrella company/PEO.
  • Conducting IR35 checks and having an IR35 procedure in place.
  • Tax avoidance checks – ensuring that the umbrella company is not running a tax avoidance scheme.
  • Ensure that any fees charged meet the criteria required.
  • Specific procedures for each business type around expenses, VAT, income tax and NICs.

The Assessor

Each business is asked to select an assessor for their compliance checks. JMK appointed global financial leader Ernst & Young as their assessor. 

“Members are assessed against FCSA’s Codes not by in-house staff or inexperienced evaluators but by a panel of fully independent and nationally renowned professional services firms, lawyers and accountants, with an authoritative level of expertise in these specialist areas.” – Chris Bryce, Chief Executive FCSA

The assessment involves 3 steps:

  1. Self assessment – the company answers questions and provides supporting documents.
  2. Sampling – the assessor will request and review a sample of anonymised workers and their documents.
  3. The assessor will then make a site visit to interview key members of staff.

Once the assessor has reported their findings back to the FCSA, the final decision is made. 


As you have read, FCSA Accreditation is not simply a tick box exercise. It is an incredibly involved process and membership requires renewal by passing an annual audit to demonstrate that standards are being maintained.

We at JMK are enormously proud of our FCSA Accreditation and are committed to maintaining it long into the future. If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to get in touch. 



Since 2002, JMK have been compliantly consolidating back-office, accountancy and payroll functions. 

We have evolved to provide a range of expert services; such as Funding, becoming a leading provider to the contracting industry.

We know every agency is different in some shape or form, even if only by a little, but important bit. Combining our knowledge and experience of multiple sectors enables JMK to support you all from recruiters and payroll, through to finance, compliance and management.

With JMK as your trusted partner, even the smallest team can process the largest payroll, regardless of payroll type.

Have a look at the wide range of services our Funding can provide to you and your business, it is far more than just payroll and finance.

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